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Classical - Released January 11, 2019 | Ondine

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Classical - Released November 9, 2018 | Ondine

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Arvo Pärt is almost the spiritual father of his fellow-countryman Andrejs Selickis (born 1960) and the two musicians share a deep faith which moulded many of their works. Selickis's style, in his a capella choir works presented here at least, harks back in part to Gregorian material, specifically in its rigorous and yet atonal counterpoint and the ineffable joy of the monody that he uses at times. He also borrows from Russian, Greek, Baltic and Armenian Orthodox liturgies amongst others. The rich modal harmonies and the soloists' voices echo those of a Cantor in certain passages. Though we say a capella, we should note that Душа грустит о Небесах ("My Soul is Yearning for Heaven") (2017) and O Crux Cristi!(2016) call on some discreet timpani strokes and Litany for Mother Teresa (2012) also brings in two cornemuses and a touch of strings, weaving a delicate backdrop of long notes. All these works are religious, which is all the more understandable when we consider that the composer is a Psalmist for the Latvian Orthodox Church. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released November 9, 2018 | Ondine

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What a curious and charming piece of work the First Symphony by Witold Lutosławski is! Written in 1947, it is still borrowing from Stravinski, Bartók, Prokofiev and clearly Roussel, and yet it display the composer's own personal ideas, and his flawless skill in orchestration. But he had not yet made the dodecaphonic style his own, nor the principle of randomness which would be found later in 1961's Jeux vénitiens (Venetian Games). In his case, randomness refers to musicians or groups of musicians having the freedom to play their different parts when they feel like it, or when the conductor gives them a cue. But for sure, this piece's formal framework is still constrained: every performance will shed a different light on it, but it is still the same work. The album finishes with the Fourth Symphony, the composer's last, written between 1988 and 1991, performed in 1993 with Lutosławski himself conducting before his death a few months later. In this work he makes a clear return to his harmonic and melodic ideas, which at times approach Mahler or Bartók, even though the discourse remains decidedly modern. The contrast between the First Symphony, Jeux vénitiens and the Fourth Symphony could not be more spectacular, and it gives a brilliant picture of the evolution of a musical genius who embraced a wide range of influences, constantly adapting them to his own style. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released November 9, 2018 | Ondine

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With a career spanning two thirds of the 20th century, Estonian composer Heino Eller (1887-1970) can be rightfully considered as one of the founders of the country's national musical style. His style remains resolutely tonal while taking on board the influences of French impressionism, German expressionism, and of course Edvard Grieg and Jean Sibelius, but also a certain "nationalism" in the choice of themes. At the outset of his career in the 1920s, his country had been liberated from the grip of the Russian Empire before falling back into the hands of the USSR in 1940. In those twenty years, a feeling of a distinct Estonian culture developed. His Violin Concerto got off to a bumpy start: written in 1934, revised three years later, it had to wait until 1965 for its world première – conducted by a young Neeme Järvi, its recording was organised by a young Arvo Pärt, a follower of Eller – but only in an abridged form. This recording gives us the score in full. The Symphonic Legend of 1923, substantially revised in 1936, was a kind of calling card for the composer: it contains all the possible influences he could have fit into it, from Ravel to Debussy, Sibelius and even Hollywood. This is the first ever release on CD. The 1948 Second Symphony was never finished, likely due to the pressure of the USSR and the infamous Zhdanov, whose decrees silenced many artists. The movement which has survived to this day, troubling and violent at times, doesn't really represent a smiling Socialist Realism, and – worse still – seems to evoke a Baltic national consciousness, which couldn't have pleased the dictatorship's policemen… © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released October 5, 2018 | Ondine

Booklet
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Chamber Music - Released October 5, 2018 | Ondine

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
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Classical - Released September 14, 2018 | Ondine

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Classical - Released September 14, 2018 | Ondine

Booklet
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Classical - Released June 8, 2018 | Ondine

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It's hard to believe that the editions by Frans Brüggen (1934-2014) of Bach's works for solo violin and solo cello, transcribed for solo recorder, are now forty years old. But it was in the 1970s that he undertook this remarkable work, and committed it to vinyl. Flautist Bolette Roed has taken a dive into the world of transcriptions – and we can't repeat this enough: the art of transcription, of re-writing, of re-arrangement, of recycling, of transposition, is an integral part of the baroque repertoire, and in particular of baroque itself! Roed has given us the complete recording of what Brüggen transcribed for recorder: eleven movements of the Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin (because not everything can reasonably be transcribed for recorder), and the first three suites initially written for cello. For the violin works, Roed has used a whole panoply of different flutes, so as to keep within Bach's original keys; and so she alternates between alto recorders,"fourth" flutes (that is, a flute in B-flat, the fourth in question being calculated from the standard recorder of the baroque era, in F), and a "fifth" flute (see above). These sounds are radically different from one another, of course, which is made quite clear in the recording. As for the Suites for Cello, these are played on a "voice flute", an instrument between tenor and alto, with some very deep low notes. But its range corresponds to the range of a soprano voice... It goes without saying that the move from violin (or cello) to the recorder gives the listener the impression of hearing brand-new works: but they are very much by the Cantor, note for note. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released May 11, 2018 | Ondine

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It's hard not to think of Rachmaninov's Vespers when listening to this masterpiece for a capella choir by Georgy Sviridov; which is perfectly natural, some would say inevitable: Vespers dates from 1915, the year of Sviridov's birth. Sviridov's Canticles and Prayers were written between the years 1990 and 1998, when he died, leaving the work incomplete – but this impressive quantity of musical material surely represents the majority of the planned opus. In it, we hear the same borrowings from Orthodox liturgy, a rich harmony – perhaps so rich as to be even closer to the original liturgy – as when Rachmaninov unfurled an extravagant harmonic carpet which was all his own, in spite of his relative lack of religious feeling. Sviridov saw his work as a part of the tradition of Russian religious song, and his pieces could quite easily form a part of religious services – if he finds choirs which are capable of mastering the extremely difficult score. That's where the Latvian Radio Choir steps in, and with great talent. The parts which are heavier on soloists are given over to voices which are closer to what we might hear at an Orthodox service: that is, quite a long way from the power and volume of lyrical voices which would, to be sure, be completely out of place in this repertoire. © SM/Qobuz
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Choral Music (Choirs) - Released May 11, 2018 | Ondine

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
One doesn't often get a chance to hear Schumann's Vom Pagen und der Königstochter ("Of the Page and the King's Daughter") a score from 1852 in the form of an epic drama in four movements, for soloists, choir and orchestra. In it, the composer uses the form of a recitative with accompaniment which surely prefigures high Wagner in terms of the vocal and orchestral treatment. The album continues with another rarity, the Cantata BWV 105 by Bach as revised by Schumann, probably for a performance when he was the musical director at Düsseldorf. For sure, the "arrangement" is pretty modest – or, rather, non-existent – in the choral overture and the first recitative, with the first big surprise coming in for the first soprano air: instead of an oboe interweaving finely with the singing, Schumann plumped for... the clarinet! You'll love it or hate it. The following recitative, a sublime bass arioso, also unadulterated; the bass aria which follows uses a romantic horn instead of the corno da tirarsi stipulated by Bach, a fairly modest alteration; the final chorale is also untouched, up to and including the extraordinary "slowing-down" writing for strings, which is entirely Bach's. The main difference here has to do with the fact that the Helsinki Baroque Orchestra plays on instruments from Schumann's century and in keeping with Romantic attitudes – something which Bach's score can happily handle, precisely because this is one of his most "Romantic" cantatas. The album closes – as remarkable as it may seem – on a discographic world first for Schumann! It seems that the Adventlied Op. 71 was never recorded until this album was made. That being said, it's clear why singers and orchestras haven't been in a hurry to tackle this rather ethereal, bloodless score: a blind listen would rather give the impression that this is a nice try by a forgotten composer at putting out some sub-Schumann stuff. But at least the enthusiast can now boast of having heard a "lost" Schumann! © SM/Qobuz
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Chamber Music - Released April 13, 2018 | Ondine

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Choral Music (Choirs) - Released April 13, 2018 | Ondine

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In addition to strictly liturgical music – often coloured by the later Protestant tradition – the only medieval music to have survived from the Nordic countries is the "cantios", often available in printed format, rather than as manuscripts. These pieces are associated with figures from the Swedish Christian tradition (and therefore Finnish, since Finland was apart of Sweden back then). They are sung in medieval Latin; the first publications appear to date from 1582, even if the music itself is two or three centuries older. In an era when the Nordic countries had just converted to Christianity, in particular just after the time of St Henry in the 1150s – before, the mythological divinities were called Ylijumala (the king of heaven), Akka his wife, Ukko the old man, Pæivæ the sun god, Panu the god of fire, and dozens of others in a jolly pantheon which rather recalled Valhalla, and indeed the pantheons of ancient Greece and Rome, with perhaps a little more in the way of woodland gods. Most of these medieval "cantios" were sung in unison as calls and responses, but also with two, three or four voices, as we hear on this album. Clearly, this album is one for lovers of medieval religious singing, although a few pieces come close to the Renaissance. The Finnish Radio Chamber Choir gives an exemplary rendition of these songs, as do the ensembles Cetus Noster (Latin for "our whale", Greco-Roman mythology, but there you go) and Köyhät ritarit ("lost bread", in Finnish). © SM/Qobuz
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Violin Concertos - Released April 13, 2018 | Ondine

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Award - Gramophone Record of the Month - Exceptional sound - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik - 5 étoiles de Classica
Today, Finland is one of the richest musical countries on Earth. Thanks to the exceptional quality of its musical teaching it produces numerous composers, conductors and artists who perform all over the world. The very rich catalogue of the dynamic Finnish publisher Ondine contains several recordings of the German violinist Christian Tetzlaff (Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin) by Bach, Mozart's sonatas, Trios by Brahms, concertos by Mendelssohn, Schumann and Shostakovich); and the Finnish conductor Hannu Lintu (Sibelius, Mahler, Enescu, Berio, Messiaen, Lindberg, Melartin), but it is their first record together. Bartók's two Violin Concertos were written thirty years apart, for two virtuosos. While the Second Concerto in the form of variations on a theme that develop ingeniously across three movements, has been well-known for a long time, the first remained unheard for years. Written as a declaration of love for the Hungarian-Swiss violinist Stefi Geyer, for whom Bartók had fallen, it was a secret kept by the dedicatee: it was only long after the composer's death that the violinist let Bartók's patron and close friend, the conductor Paul Sacher, know about the work. He would see that it was performed, with Hansheinz Schneeberger, but only in 1958. Bartók's two concertos, essential parts of the repertoire for violin and orchestra would enjoy a well-deserved resurgence in interest among a younger generation of violinists – the recording of the same works by Renaud Capuçon for Warner came out a few weeks ago. This new version, magnificently recorded, carefully explores all the orchestral richness, in perfect dialogue with Christian Tetzlaff's outstanding violin. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Keyboard Concertos - Released March 2, 2018 | Ondine

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice
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Symphonic Music - Released February 9, 2018 | Ondine

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Exceptional sound
‘Travel’ and ‘journey’ are often appropriate metaphors for the music of the Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür (b. 1959). The composer himself describes his viola concerto Illuminatio as a “pilgrimage towards eternal light”, and with his Symphony No. 8 he stresses the importance of a “constant sense of ‘being on the road’”. This says something essential about the dynamics, growth and development of his music. To take a broader view, Tüür’s entire career may be described as a journey: in the course of his professional life beginning in the 1980s, he has thoroughly revised and reformed his idiom and compositional precepts. His ambitious journey began in rock music while at the same time he was studying flute, percussion and composition at the Conservatory. Since 1992 he has been a freelance composer. In his early career, Tüür developed a ‘polystylistic’ approach that combined minimalist and tonal elements on the one hand, modernist features on the other, into an idiom where he juxtaposed elements from different and seemingly incompatible styles, seeking both contrasts and syntheses. In the early 2000s, he went through a transition that resulted in his new composition technique. Here, “the entire composition is encapsulated in a source code – a gene which, as it mutates and grows, connects the dots in the fabric of the whole work”. All the works on the present album are from this period. The core of Tüür’s output consists of extensive orchestral works (including nine symphonies and several concertos), chamber music and vocal works. Whereas the viola concerto can be compared to a journey, Whistles and Whispers from Uluru (2007) for recorder and chamber orchestra was inspired by a landscape and a sonority. The piece was written to a commission from the Australian Chamber Orchestra for recorder virtuoso Genevieve Lacey, who also plays on this album – several different recorders, from sopranino to bass. Some sonorities are enhanced by electronic means. When a composer has written nine symphonies, the genre is obviosuly very important for him. In the case of Tüür, the term ‘symphonic’ must be understood in a broad sense – not as a strict formal scheme, but rather as a uniquely shaped and independently formed structure in each work. Tüür’s symphonies form the hard core of his output, spanning the length of his career, the first dating from 1984 and the latest from 2017. The symphonies vary greatly in terms of form, ensemble and idiom. Symphony No. 8 was commissioned by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and was completed in 2010. Considering the resources of the commissioning party, Tüür scored the work for a sinfonietta-type ensemble instead of a large symphony orchestra, and as a result the music has at times a chamber music feel. © SM/Qobuz
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Duets - Released February 9, 2018 | Ondine

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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Classical - Released January 12, 2018 | Ondine

Booklet
After the five-volume complete recording of Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas Paavali Jumppanen’s new recording on Ondine turns attention to Claude Debussy’s (1862–1918) piano works. This album includes complete Préludes together with the Children’s Corner. Debussy’s oeuvre has been explored both by the amateur pianist and the most legendary virtuosos of the keyboard. Throughout his career Debussy sought new ways to express his musical vistas. He began numerous large compositional projects and between these big ventures wrote miniatures such as songs and piano pieces. Fine examples of these are the Préludes and the Children’s Corner. Debussy’s 24 piano preludes were published in two sets in 1910 and 1913. These miniatures are varied in character and style, and include, among others, references to literature, poetry, nature, the Mediterranean landscape and the events in Paris during Debussy’s lifetime. This work resulted in the creation of such enigmatic pieces as La cathédrale engloutie, La fille aux cheveux de lin and Des pas sur la neige, to name but a few. The six pieces forming the cycle Children’s Corner (1908) evoke adult recollections of childhood. The set bears a dedication to Debussy’s daughter Chouchou and includes some of Debussy’s most well-known piano pieces, including The snow is dancing and Golliwogg’s Cake Walk. A dedicated performer of French music, Paavali Jumppanen often performs the large cycles of Debussy’s late period, namely the Préludes and the Études. About a Debussy recital, The Boston Globe reported how “Jumppanen maximized piano’s deeply resonant qualities—not just to create beautiful sound but to point up how radical Debussy’s harmonic language was.” Another critic (ConcertoNet.com) noted: ”I was bowled over by Mr. Jumppanen’s performance. - - As for his upcoming recording of the complete Debussy Preludes, sight-unseen, I would urge any collector to grab it: if it is anything like the Etudes we heard last Sunday, we are in for a treat!” New York Arts continued: “Magnificent recital. - - I cannot imagine a more penetrating, subtle, and beautiful traversal of Debussy’s final statement for the piano.” © Ondine
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Classical - Released November 10, 2017 | Ondine

Hi-Res Booklet